INTERVIEW-Figure skating-Queen Yuna happy to put career on ice

SEOUL, May 17 (Reuters) - Three months after her Olympic figure skating success, Kim Yuna is still enjoying her victory and ignoring the “horrendous” thought of deciding whether or not to defend her title in Sochi.

After wowing the world with her record-setting display in Vancouver, Queen Yuna, as she has been dubbed, has been dining with presidents and filming commercials after becoming the first South Korean to win an Olympic figure skating gold medal.

The 19-year-old Kim will head back to her training rink in Canada in a few weeks and search for what comes next in a life that already has netted her millions of dollars in endorsements and a place among the sports finest.

“It’s only been three months after the Olympics, and to think of four more years down the road is just horrendous,” the carefree Kim told Reuters in an interview last week.

“I am not thinking of the next Olympics yet because I haven’t yet made a decision on next season.”

There has been speculation Kim would pass up the chance at competing again on the international level and instead take up a career as a professional performer for ice shows.

“I’ve only done figure skating and it is what I have confidence in and what I do best. When my competitive days are over... I’ll turn pro and go to many other countries to do shows,” Kim added, without putting a timeframe on her plans.

Kim also denied speculation that her long-time coach Brian Orser was going to leave and work with her closest rival, Mao Asada of Japan.

“The stories that have been going around that Brian Orser will coach another athlete, I know to be false,” Kim said, praising Orser for her achievements.

“Other athletes have many troubles with their coaches, but I think I was able to get to where I am now because Orser and I had that relationship of trust.”


Kim stepped onto the ice for the first time as a five-year-old and her achievements since have been remarkable.

“The first time I set foot on the ice was when my family went to visit this newly opened ice rink. My parents enrolled my older sister and me for classes.

“My mother was an avid fan of figure skating but I don’t think I started skating with aspirations of becoming an athlete in mind. I just enjoyed it until one day a coach told my mother, ‘This girl has potential and should be made an athlete.’”

The college student managed to realise that potential but needed to make a fair few sacrifices along the way.

“I can’t ride bicycles,” Kim said.

“When I was young, I was able to ride a bicycle with training wheels. But I started figure skating at an early age and was told: ‘Don’t get on bicycles because they are dangerous.’”

Avoiding such unnecessary risks proved a sensible move as Kim is now one of the most marketable people in South Korea.

Forbes magazine has said she earned an estimated $8 million in endorsements before the Games after appearing in ads for the likes of Hyundai Motor, Samsung and Nike. [ID:nTOE61M002]

After the Games, she was also in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world, joining the likes of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and singer Lady Gaga, a favourite of Kim who is on the playlist in her MP3 player.

“The choices I made back then led to some regret, but thinking on it now, I think I was born to skate.” (Edited by Patrick Johnston; To query or comment on this story email